Travel review: A couple of nights away in High Falls, GA

*Note- There is only one picture, not six, above.*

GLAMPING POD at High Falls, GA *** Surprisingly, the most requested trip review I’ve ever received😳!

This excursion was kind of like riding a bicycle built for two. Some coordination and pre thought required but awfully fun and cute and simple. Made for two and only for a short time. 🚲 Which coincidentally reminds me, note, we should’ve taken our bikes! We did two nights; retrospect, we might go three just because we LOVED hanging out at the falls and, well, with Covid, it’s not like we have someplace better to go. Easy trip from anywhere in GA or beyond, really. 1 hour, 10 mins for us, coming from Middle Georgia.

The pod is precious. Plenty of standing room, clean, and a good place to basically sleep. One drawback: In the pics, it looks like it’s dropped in the middle of nowhere, highly desirable for us👏. Actually upon arrival, it’s on the outer edge of a campground and the nearest RV is a stone’s throw away. BUT, the pod patio is on the edge/woods side, and the pod is kind of high, angular, igloo like-stacked (if I’m making sense). So, grilling, listening to music, sharing a bottle of Jack on the patio, you can pretend you’re remote👍 Soon, we couldn’t be convinced we weren’t hardcore excursionists (with the amenities of home three steps away, yeah!).

Things to take: More comfy outside chairs than those provided, microwaveable sides (we took steam-bag veggies) or quick breakfasts perhaps. Bug spray. No bugs bother me because my blood type is pickle juice, but if you’re on the sweet, smell-good side, they might tote you off without spray, coils, candles, whatever you primpy or campy types use.

Things to do nearby: This gets a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Granted, I’m a gypsy spirit and Covid restrictions had me climbing the walls pre trip, so I was as easy as blackberry cobbler to impress). But truly, the scenery and quaint, laidback attractions nearby have you thinking you are somewhere farther from home. Somewhere worth killing a little downtime. I pretended I was in Colorado, so just do your thing and soak in simplicity.

Itinerary: Day 1- We left our hometown about 10 AM. Stopped in Juliette and ate lunch at Whistle Stop Cafe (met the hype. Okay, y’all do know you get the fried green maters, there, right?). If you’re the movie type, you already know the back story. If you’re the trivia type, look it up so you realize it’s more than a neat cafe. We browsed adorable shops on the Juliette strip, made friends with shop owners (this will be a prevailing theme, you’ll soon find out), got good Southerny snapshots. Checked in to our Colorado glamping pod. Unloaded by 4:30! Let’s face it; there’s not much to unload at the glamping pod. Nice.

We tend to overestimate ourselves. Decided to take the ‘long walk’ (about 10 mins, campground manager said). A cinch. Let’s go! 25 huffing-puffing mins later up, down, around Lake Jackson, we found the falls which turns out were five, mostly-flat-walking mins away on the highway. But, beautiful! Ah! So many trails and views, but we simply wanted a late-day sneak peek. Can’t say enough about the falls. Grilled out on the pod patio. Pretending I was in Colorado worked great. What a day; just what we needed. It’s all so low key and if you are serious about social distancing or off-grid experiences, you can feel like you are on a real getaway without being anxious!

Day 2: Hubby grilled sausage night before. Warmed for breakfast. Easy, slow morning in the, uhm, lower hills of Colorado. Packed sandwiches and chips for lunch at the falls. The park is lovely and a 3-min drive! They have kayaks and canoes and stuff and we’ll do that next time, but we just wanted to r-e-l-a-x. You can picnic close to the dam. Park the car right there, trash receptacles and grills there, too. Yummy! Romantic! Pretty! Sunny! Private! In fact, I just decided, we’re going back next month! There are various trails on both sides of the bridge. We loved the far side across the road from the park and dam. Spectacular views, unhindered nature, good banisters and sturdy steps if you’re not normally a hiker. Gorgeous! Relaxing! After lunch, we drove to Indian Springs. We like to think we are those touristy-type history buffs because we’ve traveled a lot, but we’re honestly amateurish. We’ll stop at a few marked points, read a few paragraphs on a sign, snap a photo, and probably opt to bust time eating the local known-for, instead. For example, we spent, eh, an hour at Hoover Dam then crashed the Hash House LVNV and ate 10,000 calories. If you’re more of the put-the-headphones-on, pay-a-guide type, you may want more time at Indian Springs. It’s got good history, a bit like Warm Springs, Roosevelt’s Little White House in western GA. We stayed, eh, an hour including the river-rock sunning, which along with the free-running well, were the highlights for us. Take an empty bottle and try the well water! Some folks brought jugs and apparently do their bottled-water shopping there for free🤷‍♀️ Mid-afternoon- We drove on to Jackson (15 mins) cuz we are spontaneous and easily entertained. Hung out with a new friend at his small, charming River’s Distillery, got the quick-version tour, enjoyed the smell (KWIM), did the tasting, bought his vodka and brandy, rocked in his rocking chairs and talked gambling-trip memories with him. Just right… Went down the street to Mesquite Mexican around 3PM for a midday snack. Good lord, get the Mesquite Special dip with nachos if you go. Sinful! Maybe don’t order the margarita pitcher so soon after the distillery, JS, but a socially-distanced good time was had by all (meaning we had the place to ourselves and were perhaps too loud). But we ate a bunch of chips, did I mention the dip, made friends with our server (we liked him, not sure he liked us) and watched the Nat hockey cup game on a flat screen in August (what? 2020 is crazy). Side note: That Jackson Bottle Shop is something to see! Feels more like something in a bigger beach town or somewhere like ATX. We didn’t need to buy alcohol, we weren’t planning to stop, but we saw the intriguing, old-style, BIG, caddy-cornered, triangular brick building, went ‘What?’ and next thing we know, we’re sending Snapchats of ourselves with ten-foot inflatable pirates and airplanes hanging from the ceiling amid rainbow stacks of ciders we’ve never heard of to our grown kids texting us, Is this at the glamping pod??? Why, yes, sort of! Don’t worry ‘bout Mommy and Daddy! Mm, k? Bye😘 Huge selection, awesome displays. We might’ve made purchases there, too, Idk😉 Evening: Chilled out/grilled out on the Colorado side of pod, (parents and small kids arrived on GA/RV side). So, music turned up on tiny Bluetooth speaker (pack that if you go). Ah! Harris Grocery kabobs on grill. Dancing, eating, drinking, heck yeah. Oh, the queen size bed in the pod is custom fitted to the opening, very cozy, nook-like, with AC above and a swivel flat screen, if you’d rather inside-chill. We stayed on our pod patio in Colorado till midnight.

Final day: Breakfast and coffee on patio for us. Then, we went to High Falls Water Park, opens at 11! It’s adorable, cheap, clean, and fun! We’re not the fancy types, so we just changed in the locker rooms afterward to head on to the next diversion on our meandering journey toward home. Which was: BBQ and looking at interesting, old farm junk at Hamlin Hills Farm in Forsyth about ten mins away. Good music blaring, scrumptious food, and like I said, cool farm junk. Made another new friend Lee, chatted about farming (well, that was mostly Nat Farmer of the Year aka my hubby Chris and the owner Lee); I was petting the dog, dancing on the empty band stage to “Hurts So Good”, and eating homemade divinity. Another fifteen-minute drive and you’re at Jarrell Plantation. Interesting history! Presented well. *Could also be visited on your first day, headed toward glamping pod, because it’s right outside Juliette, if you allow time. Evening: We planned to kill time in Macon, eat out, and do the Dueling Piano bar (hey, did you know it’s the longest bar in GA😎), but we were damp and tired. So we drove home, unpacked (let’s face it, took like 7 mins to unpack bc, you know, #Coloradopodliferocks), napped, grabbed our redheaded grown kid and her boyfriend, and we were back in Macon at the piano bar by nine with energy to spare (it would also be an easy drive FROM the pod while you’re staying there- or see a Macon Bacon game, Bass Pro, downtown dining, whatever, even if you wanted to add an extra pod night for Macon nightlife; it’s like 20 mins away). And that’s a wrap 🏕🌊 4.7 ⭐️

PS- How you know it’s 2020: I just wrote a longer review for rural RV park pod in Middle GA than I did for our 6-day Philly trip. -CC

Cover reveal!

I am thrilled to unveil the cover of my fourth published fiction book, coming soon to Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and print.

RETURN, a Halloween time travel romance

From the series Islands of Legend and Love

Ian Kelly is living a grand life in Manhattan in 2020 with his wife Mawd and their children. On Halloween night, he is tossed into history and discovers Mawd is a Welsh time traveler born in the fourteenth century.

Teenage Mawd uses a spiritual summon as a last resort out of an arranged marriage. Ian appears as her solution, unrecognizable to her. If he wants to regain his future wife in modern America, Ian must lure Mawd to fall in love as teenagers while she is forced to follow the summon rules.

Ian and Mawd are separated and reunited through a series of Halloween-based time hops as they age- in an English plague village, Colonial America, the Roaring Twenties, and San Francisco’s hippy-born Summer of Love. Their experiences offer a fascinating glimpse at life in each era and will prove their love can stand the test of time or tear them apart.

***My artist sister illustrated the cover. That’s the best part! –CC

Lainey Cash by Clare Cinnamon — passionduniya’s review

BOOK IS AVAILABLE in print or eBook at Amazon and B&N.

Title: Lainey Cash Author: Clare Cinnamon Format: Kindle Rating: 4.5/5 Lainey Cash is the first book in the “From the Fifteen Thousand Times for Fifty Years” series written by the author Clare Cinnamon. The story is set in Mallard, Mississippi. The protagonist of the story is Delaina Cash aka Lainey. She is the daughter of […]

Lainey Cash by Clare Cinnamon — passionduniya

A Halloween time travel romance:


From the series Islands of Legend and Love

Ian Kelly is living a grand life in Manhattan in 2020 with his wife Mawd and their children. On Halloween night, he is tossed into history and discovers Mawd is a Welsh time traveler born in the fourteenth century.

Teenage Mawd uses a spiritual summon as a last resort out of an arranged marriage. Ian appears as her solution, unrecognizable to her. If he wants to regain his future wife in modern America, Ian must lure Mawd to fall in love as teenagers while she is forced to follow the summon rules.

Ian and Mawd are separated and reunited through a series of Halloween-based time hops as they age- in an English plague village, Colonial America, the Roaring Twenties, and San Francisco’s hippy-born Summer of Love. Their experiences offer a fascinating glimpse at life in each era and will prove their love can stand the test of time or tear them apart. 

Thank you to my amazing artist sister for collaborating on the cover illustration. Book available in print or eBook just in time for Halloween 2020! –CC

Sparkling book review of “Sunshine and Lev”


My third published romance/suspense novel, set on the South Carolina coast, is getting stellar feedback these days. Here’s the summary: 

What if you met the love of your life days after you, maybe, got pregnant by someone else?

Lonely but renowned artist Ariadne Franklin ushers in a new year with the vow of a ‘new me.’ Venturing beyond the usual confines of her beachside cottage, she lands herself in a piano bar. The creepy night that follows changes her life forever.

Days later, in walks architect Lev Porter to repair her cottage ceiling.  Breezy seafarer Lev, with a successful construction company known as LPI, Inc. and a bustling lifestyle full of intriguing friends, falls in love with Ariadne at first sight.

The artist and the architect must navigate through their strong feelings and the repercussions of her tragic night amid threats of major LPI lawsuits on the South Carolina coast.

*Special thanks to my artist sister for illustrating the compelling cover! –CC

Check out the latest review in the link!


“Sunshine and Lev” released. Here’s the introduction.


Her drawing frenzies began with crayons and doodle pads before she went to kindergarten. 

Mom and Dad weren’t married anymore. They fought it out on the front porch or in the courtroom. A ready-packed suitcase and pair of houses defined her family. Sometimes she heard, and she always felt, the undercurrents. Dissension, revenge, and later, each of them assimilating their own brand of freedom. To be responsible for her became the loss. Mom and Dad scurried through living, it seemed, punctuated by marked calendars, new people, and renewed hope, leaving her tossed on the waves of time. 

Her head surfaced occasionally. A chance to breathe, the wild distraction to save herself, hidden in a well that never ran dry: thoughts within the mind, emotions of the heart. A fate relegated to brush strokes, a child’s unnoticed drawing frenzies, a teenager’s painting outbreaks, a woman’s studio sabbaticals. Nobody used the word art, instead, a glance or comment. That’s pretty. You like to draw. Is it the ocean or the sky? 

 Ariadne Franklin, of canvases splashed in blues and greens, a mermaid darting between reality and escape, ever detected, if anyone had looked. Her bouts lasted until the waves rolled out to sea again and calm restored for a little while. The story of an artist. 

It is with immense pride that I announce: The cover was illustrated by my beautiful artist sister Betsy.

“Sunshine and Lev” is a romance/suspense novel, my third release, available in print or eBook at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Clare Cinnamon

LOVESCENE2020 Episode 4

“Three Wishes”

They won! Dansby wholeheartedly accepted the stipulation: He had to pop the question for Andee to be his girlfriend…or his wife. He had the night of their lives planned.

The producers of LOVESCENE2020 arranged transportation to the hot air balloon site. Dansby couldn’t keep his eyes off his date. Andee wore a white slip dress. She looked elegant and tan and ready.

Their lovely jade green balloon glowed in the sunlight. Soon, it launched them into a new world, a wondrous perspective on Earth below. “This is exhilarating!” Andee wrapped her arms around Dansby and kissed his lips.

“It’s kind of scary.” Dansby hardly glanced downward.

“Dan, are you afraid of heights?” She laughed her Andee laugh, full of joy and dares.

He chuckled. “Maybe a little, An. Hold on tight and I’ll be fine.” She hugged him and they catapulted into the fullness of the adventure seekers that they were. They got a bird’s eye view of trees and mountains and water below and a special appreciation that they experienced it all together.

Later, the first of many surprises came to life. Dansby requested the balloon land anywhere on the shoreline of Lake Somewhere in the setting sun. They walked on the sand and simply soaked it up. They found themselves on the dock, reclined and making private jokes and kissing.

Next, he led her to the boat house, another request that the producers honored. Twinkling lights, a quiet dinner for two, and a romantic bed set the stage. They spent the night together with Dansby’s promise of a “very big breakfast surprise.” They had, after all, shared twenty breakfasts with each other so far.

He was a bundle of nerves at daybreak. It turned off exceptionally chilly, making him glad he’d planned the fancy, heartfelt lattes. He left hers bedside with a nudge and scattered petals to a grass path nearby, which they had walked before, talking and laughing in days past.

Soon, Andee tiptoed on the path. He stood, trembling, with a vintage ring held in his hand behind his back. He gulped when he saw her strange face. “What’s this, Dansby?” It was not a face she’d made before.

“There was a stipulation to winning. I’m supposed to, uhm, pop the question, uhm, ‘Will you be my girlfriend…or wife?’” She laughed an odd, nervous laugh in reply. They stood face-to-face. “Andee, with seven days left here, I’ve been wondering anyway, you know, what’ll happen to us.” She looked away. “I did some research. We live approximately a thousand miles apart, Portland to Orange County, California.”

“That’s a long…distance.” Did she have tears in her eyes? “Why can’t this just be fun?”

No turning back, Dansby had given her a most romantic evening and morning. “Will you be my girlfriend?” He produced the brassy, beautiful ring for his brassy, beautiful girl. “I want to leave here knowing we will try.”

She touched the ring; she took it; she turned it to early morning rays. “Wow. So beautiful.” She gave it back. “This is a lot.” She patted his heart and stepped away. “I came here without expectations. You’re…an amazing man. I like you. I…might could fall in love with you.”

“I think I am falling in love with you.” He looked smitten.

What a handsome and happy guy. Andee had enjoyed every minute with him. “Your business is in Portland. You are…uh…stuck there, right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it stuck. I love my life and I make good money, An.”

“But you’re not moving to California. I love my life, Dan.” She fumbled with the braid at the nape of her neck. “Thank you for the best night I’ve ever had. You’re funny, you’re great in bed, you’re…very good with food and drink.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “Oh, Dansby, this is hard. To accept the ring is to enter a long-distance relationship or…to insinuate that I would eventually move to Portland.”

He didn’t mean to make her cry. This was supposed to be the best morning they ever had, too. “Hey.” He held her. “It’s okay.”

“I’m not saying no. I’m saying…” She looked up at him. “I care about you. I need more time.”

Dansby slipped the ring into his pocket and showed Andee his empty palms. “No rush. We have seven days before the contest ends. I only have eyes for you and…nothing but time.”

Paige wore a black one-piece swimsuit. Understated sexy elegance, just like her. Wilder waited in bubbling water. “This is one hell of a consolation prize. You’re gorgeous always.”

She dipped a toe in. “Thank you, Mr. Wisconsin. The voters have loved us all along.” She slid into the hot water.

He didn’t wait around and roped her in. “Smart people, they are.” He kissed her. They sure did like to kiss.

“Wilder, this is nice. Steamy. Literally and physically. Gosh, I hate to kill the mood, but I must confess. Caroline upset me when she got voted off and left.”

He made a concerned face as they floated apart. “Okay…”

“She told me that if I planned to move forward with you, I should probably know that she showed up in your bedroom the same night we had our second boat date. She said she showed up because you had been wanting her to.”

“Paige, I can explain.” He took her by the wrist. “Look at me.”

She didn’t. “I’ve heard it all before. I told you, I’ve been cheated on twice.” She faced the edge of the hot tub, back to him. “Trust is so hard.”

He didn’t close in on her, sat opposite, and soaked, simmering inside. “There was a spark between Caroline and me, at first, I admit. A few times, we made eyes at each other going into our bedrooms, but…once I had a chance with you, I made it clear when she showed up.” He sighed because still Paige didn’t face him. “I turned her down. Nothing happened.”

Paige dried off. Wilder got out. The bar had been set with champagne and glasses. “What would it take?” He embraced her. She let him. “Paige, I want a chance with you.” He poured champagne into glasses, grasping at any strategy to persuade. “Sweetheart, give trust a try. You’ll never be happy if you don’t.” He handed her a glass. “Trust me. I’m your guy.”

She toasted his glass and nodded. “Thank you for your patience. I am trying.” After a bout of quietness, Wilder told her that he thought it’d be best if he called it a night. He promised her that he was up for anything, when or if, she felt ready.

Paige spent a restless hour in her bed alone. She remembered handsome Wilder from day one onward. His grounded nature, his romantic gestures, their sneaky date offsite, and dozens of snitched kisses since.

She found lacy nightwear in her drawer. After midnight, in a direct replication of Caroline’s boldness, she slipped into his bedroom. She found him awake and not all that surprised. “Hello, Miss Paige. What’s on your mind?”

She sat on his bed with her back turned. “I believe you, Wilder. I thought I might replace the memory of…Caroline here with…one of our own.”

He crawled behind her and put his arms around her. “Thank you.” His nose nudged her hair. “You smell so good.”

“Would you mind if I stay the night, you know, to sleep with you? Like, hold me.” She had a shy smile. “I do love how much we kiss.”

They found their way under the covers. He did hold her. “Paige, you’re a serious kind of girl. I’m falling hard for you. What I mean is, what would you think of life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, when this is all said and done?”

She giggled. “I’m falling hard for you, Wilder, but I’m a music teacher in Kansas. Any chance your cows would tolerate voice lessons?”

He chuckled. “You’d be teacher of the century if you could make their mooing sound like a song.”

“I definitely want to explore a relationship with you. I told you that I wasn’t planning to you know here. Seven more nights like this and…”

“I read you loud and clear, Miss Paige. Just say when.”

“Kiss me.”


They kissed till she, hesitantly, said goodnight and fell asleep in broad, steady arms.

Who cared about third place? Leo and Jacinta had been voter favorites for weeks. Who cared about votes, anymore, anyway? Not Leo. If he had his way, he’d be leaving Lake Somewhere with the love of his life.

Tonight, he would wine her, dine her, and, well…whatever came next. The other couples stashed away on dates, Leo opted for dinner and dancing on the shore. He held hands with his Jace and led her there. She went ooh and ah.

“Teach me to slow dance properly,” he requested after a relaxed meal on the sand.

“Properly? You, Leo?” She bumped noses with him. “I know you. You’d rather dirty dance.”

“You know me well! Show me the slow and easy and dirty way, Jace.”

“My pleasure.”

Leo had music piping from a wireless speaker. He played Ed Sheeran again, same song they danced to the first time they danced. They ended up falling asleep on the same sheet they picnicked on after a lot of slow and easy moves.

Next morning, Jace awoke to a sparkling diamond engagement ring, a painted rock- Marry Me- and Leo on bended knee. She cried while he spoke. “The winner of the hot air balloon ride was supposed to pop the question, ‘Will you be my girlfriend…or wife?’. Jacinta, I don’t need a stipulation from the producers to give my heart to you. You have it. So, I’m asking…” He winked and took her ring finger. “May I move in with you in Miami? I’m a rambler, a hiker, a tour guide. My home is anywhere I choose to make it.” He wiped a tear on her cheek. “What do you think? You want to start planning our future as soon as we leave here? I love you.”

“You know I love you, too.” She snatched her ring, and after bouncing up and down, gripped him tightly. “Yes, yes, yes! I can’t wait to be Mrs. Leo. Ha, ha! One day…” Leo twirled his Jace around. “One day suits me fine.”


Before Caroline left Lake Somewhere, she ratted out Andee and Dansby for picking the lock to the loft hideaway and Wilder and Paige for stealing the boat and wandering out of sight on their second date.

The producers of LOVESCENE2020 determined that perhaps Leo and Jace fell into third place because the other couples broke the rules and created sultry dates of their own. Very unfair strategies to gain votes, even if it was in the name of love. The punishment? Andee, Dansby, Paige and Wilder – LOCKED AWAY in their own rooms each night- 8 PM – 8 AM- until voting for the FINAL episode ends Sunday 4/26 at midnight.

THE GRAND PRIZE AT STAKE? Six nights in Costa Rica upon leaving Lake Somewhere and $50,000.00 for the winning couple!

Here’s what happened next:

Andee counted on maximizing her days and nights with Dansby to make her decision about the ring and being his girlfriend. They walked in from his morning proposal to have the bombshell bad news dropped on them. She grabbed his hand. “Our only hope is to win that trip, Dan. I’m not ready to let you go. That I do know.” He kissed her in front of the others. “I’ll be in the kitchen making your breakfast at 8AM sharp every morning left here, An. You can count on that.”

Paige and Wilder came downstairs with dopey grins to really bad news. With a frown, she whispered, “We need Costa Rica. I’m ready for more with you.” Wilder nodded. “We’ll win. If we don’t, I won’t lose you.”

Leo and Jace felt sorry for the rulebreakers for about ten seconds after they arrived in the house. Then, they showed off her ring. Leo turned directly to the voters with his plea. “Vote for us. We’re in love and we could celebrate our engagement in Costa Rica. Who knows, we might go crazy and come back married!”

WHO ARE THE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS? Comment below. Take care, world. –CC

LOVESCENE 2020, Episode 3

Leo & Jacinta, “Joyride”

Midafternoon felt hot but not as hot as Jace looked to Leo. They won the jeep keys, first time any remaining competitors had left the property of Lake Somewhere in three weeks. Propped on the side of the vehicle, Leo sipped his cold soda and watched her approach. She wore a tank top and cutoff denim shorts over a swimsuit. The two of them fit like that, he thought, neither being the dressy, indoors type. She called out, “Hey, cool dude. May I bum a ride with you?”

“My pleasure.” Leo would’ve opened her door for her, but he’d taken the top and doors off the jeep for the short ride. A hike, a waterfall, a campfire, a grill, a tent. That’s what the produces of LOVESCENE2020 had offered him for their excursion, along with directions: Three miles down the lakeshore drive.

“Hot day,” Leo commented as he drove away from the house. “But not as hot as you.”

Jace giggled. “Feels good to get away for a while, huh?” She took his hand.

“Feels good to go anywhere with you, Jace.” Leo didn’t even have time to play music in the jeep before they arrived in the middle of nowhere. Their sunshine, lake, and mountain view.

Voter favorites Leo and Jace share a special outing away from Lake Somewhere…

“Wow,” Jace said. “Look at all the trees and trails. Look at the view…”  Leo parked on the dirt road. They stepped out. Their eyes toured- their destination for the rest of the day- and if Leo had his way, the night. It was a lakeview of loveliness, set with lanterns and logs yet lit, a tiny tent for two, and a trail that stretched out then vanished on a slope near the water. Leo sent a silent thank you out to the producers and up to the clouds above. What a fate.

“Didn’t they hint there’s a waterfall around here?” Jace shed her clothes in the broiling sun, revealing a white bikini. Her rich dark skin suggested that she lived and breathed outdoors, like Leo. She took off, dragging him. “Let’s go!”

An hour later, tricked by water splashing all around and setting sun, Leo produced a compass. “Northwest of the campsite, they said. We must be near the origin of the falls.”

Jacinta giggled. “You are a man with a plan. I’m glad you’re mine.” Leo’s eyes stared into hers. “I am yours, Jacinta.” He led her on a twiggy trail until water crashed over the mountainside into a swirly pool right before their eyes. “Let me guess, you’re not gonna wear clothes,” she joked, watching Leo approach the bank.

“Hopefully, you’re not either.” Leo’s challenge issued, they skinny-dipped in their own little oasis until darkness and hunger prevailed.

 Leo got his wish. They spent a starlit night feeding each other grilled meat and veggies, talking quietly by the fire, and much later, entwined together in tent blankets, sleepy and satisfied. ~ ~ ~

Wilder turns romantic to win a second chance with Paige.

The time to act came quickly. …Since Wilder saw Paige the night everyone danced to Jace’s salsa lessons, he’d been thinking about their boat date on day one at Lake Somewhere.

Her beauty stood out among the rest. Quieter, more graceful, ladylike. Often, when he’d sneak a peek at her from afar, Wilder would catch Paige sneaking a peek at him. 

Then the voters went and threw them a curve ball, too. Wilder & Paige, one vote shy of winning the jeep keys. Maybe the voters saw what Wilder had begun to feel- the potential for more. So, he went about the task of recreating their first date on the boat, set to take place (hopefully) while Leo and Jace were away in the jeep. An apology, a second chance, a consolation prize for second place. He went full-scale romantic and slipped a note under her bedroom door this morning. ‘We almost won another date. So…me, you, boat, 5 PM? Wilder

Wilder waited…and waited on the dock. 5:01 p.m. 5:05 p.m. He told himself women are always running late for dates. 5:10 p.m. At 5:15 p.m, he decided to give up on her, maybe even invite Andee or Caroline out on the boat. He’d gone to A LOT of trouble, an evening of surprises, to be stood up. He sighed and turned the corner by the boat house. Paige came down the grassy hill. Wilder was taken aback. This woman, a mixture of formal and informal. She never wore much makeup. Style-wise, he never knew. For twenty-one days, she might be found in jeans, a swimsuit, or a sundress. Today, she wore a sleeveless top and fitted shorts. So fitted that he wondered how she got into them.

Paige glanced back at the house and went onto tiptoes when her body was close to his. She kissed him hastily. “This is nice of you.”

Wilder didn’t know a man could lose his breath. How had he missed this on their first go-around? Or had he? He did have a compulsion to kiss her that day. A memorable kiss… He guided her into the boat. “Easy now. No flipping it over.” He winked in the sunlight. Paige giggled. Both recalled her hammock dumping, first moment they met.

Wilder slid close to her, once seated, and put his arm around her. “Mind?” “No.” “You smell good.” He sniffed her shiny brown hair. “Like last time. Like…honey, I think.” Paige laughed. “Thanks.” She moved away slightly and made eyes with him. “My shampoo, probably.”

“Mm, hm.” He sniffed again and winked again. Certainly not the smoothest conversation Wilder ever made with a woman, but it did keep his nerves at bay, kind of, until he pitched Part 2 of their second chance. “The voters are pulling for us, you know. Must sense something here.”

Paige’s turn to go, “Mm, hm.”

Wilder had rowed halfway across the lake and went for it. “You insinuated, on our last date, that since I’m a dairy farmer, I might be good with my hands.”

Paige made a funny little gasp. “And?” Wilder grinned. “Paige, would you be opposed to anchoring away from the house? We might find a surprise.”

“This is very,” Her beautiful eyes scoped his, “romantic, Wilder.” She looked away. “And I think it’s against the rules.” She laughed.

Wilder made an unconcerned face. “What are the producers gonna do? Kick us off Lake Somewhere? I’d find you and try this again, just so you know.”

Paige frowned. Almost too good to be true, the transformation that Wilder had made. “Dansby suggested you don’t know what you want. That you’ve never played the field, Wilder. A good way for me to get hurt.” Light breeze blew her luscious hair over her shoulders. “I felt something for you, just from reading your bio before we ever arrived at Lake Somewhere.”

Wilder shrugged his shoulders and opted for honesty. “Dansby may be right, about when I first got here. A lot of women, flirting, pressure, but…all I know is, you catch my eye daily, and…I’ve rehashed our date more than once.” The boat landed on a sliver of shore. “Paige, you’re a lady.” He heard her breath catch. He offered his hand. “Will you join me?”

She saw a most romantic display in the grass nearby. Flowers and wine and fruit and a guitar and a quilt. “You did this?” “I did.” “You sing or play?” Paige began to walk toward the setup.

“I make food and music. I’m told I’m pretty good with my hands.” Wilder followed her.

She snickered. “I’m a music teacher, you know.”

“I know. I’m nervous as hell.” He chuckled. She sat. He sat. Her eyes were on the guitar. “Um, how ’bout a glass of wine first?” Wilder opened the bottle and poured glasses. “To second dates,” Paige toasted. They ate fruit and talked about life in the lake house outside the real world for a few minutes. Wilder picked up the guitar, strummed, stared at her, took a deep breath, and…The Beatles, “Love Me Do” showed up. They sang together in setting sun.

Later, lying on their backs, sated by wine and an easy date, Paige considered the dusky sky. “I love evenings outdoors.” She ruffled his windblown hair. “You told me on our first date that country boys know a thing or two about pastures and moonlight, walks in the woods and quilts in the grass, truck beds and homemade wine… This has been wonderful. Thank you.”

Wilder had a wine buzz and a Paige buzz, which made him daring. “I want to kiss you so bad. Are you shy, Paige?”

She smiled through the haze of evening. “Only half shy.”

“The other half?”


All the encouragement he needed, Wilder rolled close to her and kissed her lips. They kissed on the quilt until unexpected raindrops interrupted. “Whoa, a big cloud.” Wilder gestured to the sky. “We should probably go.” They gathered items and rushed to the boat.

Seated and rowing in a downpour, Wilder chuckled into the night. “Rain interrupted our first date, too.”

“Oh yeah…you’re right!” Paige huddled close to him in the chilly pelt. “But, truthfully, Wilder, I would’ve stopped anyway.”

The pitter-patter of droplets hit the boat for a span. Wilder finally said, “I’m sorry, I have to ask. Because you…aren’t interested in me?”

Paige’s half-shy side emerged. “No, I’m very interested, but I’m not planning to, you know, with anybody in the short time we will be living at Lake Somewhere.”

Wilder hunched her body close to his. “No worries, baby. I could kiss you into next month and be happy.”

Paige smiled into the pouring rain. “Good. Maybe the voters will give us a chance to…kiss again.”

“Never mind the voters. I can give you that right now.” Wilder’s lips found hers easily. The boat bumped into the edge of the dock, reminding them that they were in a rainstorm and had arrived at their temporary home. ~ ~ ~

He had, maybe, expected this. He had certainly wished for it, a night or two, going into his bedroom at the same time she went into hers, after an evening downstairs with the Lake Somewhere group.

Right now, Wilder merely felt a mix of compassion and guilt. Caroline had come in second, or third place, to Paige and Andee, garnering votes here and there but never a chance for them to pursue each other away from the microscope of the others.  When his doorknob clicked and partial light came into his room, he hoped, for a flash, that Paige had changed her mind about spending a night with him. He knew better.

So here she was, Caroline, alone, dressed in a cami and pajama pants, striking red curls stacked on her head, standing over his bed. Wilder watched her in night shadows. Her hand touched his head. “Hair’s damp. I heard you and Paige come in from the storm, laughing.”

“I took her on the boat. I’ve, uh…” Wilder shifted on his pillow. He could hardly see Caroline now with the door shut, or decipher what she’d do next. “…felt something for her, all along, I think.”

“That’s against the rules. Taking the boat out. Besides, Wilder, most of the time, you felt something for me.”

“True.” Wilder became aware of her presence, actually her breath. Her fingertip moved along the edge of the sheet at his chest. His pulse did kick up.

“I overheard Paige say that she wouldn’t come into your room tonight…I’m offering.”

Wilder jerked away as Caroline’s knee pressed onto the mattress. “Caroline, what’re you doing?”

“We deserve a chance.”

Wilder gripped her arm lightly. “I have been attracted to you. You’re a beautiful woman and an interesting person. Of course, I’d go out with you if we won a chance.” He climbed out of bed on the other side. He could feel Caroline’s eyes scan his body in boxers through the shadows.  “Otherwise, I…want to give Paige a fair trial. Let’s leave it up to the voters. Goodnight.”

Dansby took Andee by the hand and led her up the elegant second-floor staircase, assuming it would take them to the loft hideaway on the third story. They had agreed at their ritual breakfast this morning; they were tired of coming in third place. Yet, third place…it meant something! A pair of daredevils, they dreamed up a scheme to dress for a real date and break into the loft, come what may. They were going home soon anyway, if they didn’t win more votes. Maybe this would do it…

Dansby brought along hand tools in his pocket. Andee brought wine and cheese. He started to work the lock. “Wait!” Andee whispered. Glancing down the staircase, she squeezed her eyes shut. “Are we sure we won’t be found?”

“If we are, you’re worth it.”

Dansby…” “Andee…” Dansby jiggled and fumbled. Andee, impatient, confessed, “It irked the hell out of me when you danced with Paige.”

He tested the knob. No dice. “Ditto you and Wilder, babe.”

She sighed. What effort she’d put into her dynamic black dress and elegant up-do just to sneak around like a horny teenager. “Have you ever picked a lock before, Dan?”

“No, An.” He paused, looked at her, and smiled crookedly. “But I work with all those fancy coffee machines and ovens and pastries in the cafes. I’ll get it.”


He jiggled and fumbled, jiggled and fumbled, jiggled and fumbled. The knob turned. The door opened. Handsome Dansby in a nice suit held out his hand. “Please, miss. Right this way. A mere coffee guy at your service.” Andee laughed. Their humor matched, always. She stepped in to a quaint, appealing, secretive place. “We’ve officially crossed a line,” she declared.

“Ah, doll face, you have no idea.” Dansby swatted her backside. “By the way, you might be the prettiest woman I’ve ever been this far with.”

“You’re gonna earn it, playboy.” She handed him the wine bottle and opener and started music on her phone. Dansby knew what to do with food and drink. It was forever an enticement. Smoothly, he opened the bottle, poured glasses, and arranged cheese, bedside. Andee started music on her phone. A slow, jazzy, old-timey tune. This guy was a throwback and it did her heart good.

Dansby stepped into the rhythm and waltzed her around the room. The window view to midnight on the lake far below glittered. Andee had been envious of Leo and Jace’s off-site escapade. Until now.

Whatever that tune was (Caroline, an author and librarian, had helped Andee conjure a playlist) faded and “Moon River” (a song Andee recognized) began.

“That’s my favorite waltz,” Dansby whispered. “Did you make this playlist for me?”

“I did.” Her dazzling eyes seemed to smile at his.

“Thank you.” He tipped her chin. “How did you learn to waltz? You’re good.”

“Jacinta. Today. Crash course.”

“That fast? You’re good.” But, Dansby abandoned the waltz to pull her in close. “You know what they say?”

“No, tell me, funny boy.” Andee melted in his arms, floated on his deep voice, and desired more.

“If you’re good at the vertical dance, you’ll be good at the horizontal dance.”

She laughed louder than planned. “Dan, you can do better than that.”

“Right.” He escorted her closer to wine and cheese and soft sheets. “Breakfast in bed at sunrise, An? You love my lattes…”

She was had.

*** VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!*** Ends midnight, Sunday 4/19!

The couple with the most votes gets…A hot air balloon ride date, ON ONE CONDITION! The girls don’t know it, but the guy must conjure a way to pop the question, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Or…wife?!

***The girl with the least votes goes home this week.***

Vote in the comments or on Facebook at Clare Cinnamon, Author.

Stay safe, world! -CC